Posted by: Lowell | April 14, 2009

Dr. Eades: A toxic environment

New post up from Dr. Eades today; this one is a great overview of why proponents of modern approaches to nutrition and weight loss are largely to blame for the current rise in obesity and so many other diseases:

http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/weight-loss/a-toxic-environment/

And another good blog source that Eades links to in his own post:

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/12/us-weight-lifestyle-and-diet-trends.html

On the topic of Dr. Eades post and the points he brings up… individuals or organizations that promote approaches that place the blame on the individual in nearly all cases upset me on a deeply personal level.  At the root of nearly all modern approaches is the basic statement that a positive caloric balance causes weight gain, and a negative balance causes weight loss, and those are easy to control by the individual.  This means that simple personal choices caused the fat guy to gain weight, and the lack of simple and easy choices are what keeps him from losing weight.  I can understand why it may seem obvious that it’s the fat guy’s fault, but for a second think– what if that’s wrong?  What if there were an underlying endocrine disorder that’s causing the problem, and the normal advice just doesn’t work?

Wouldn’t we just be causing mental trauma for that man, creating an unhealthy relationship between him and food?  Eventually causing him to stop believing in science in medicine (see earlier post from Alton)?  The lack of personal results, combined with the cognitive dissonance of being told one set of things that seems to make sense and having all that advice not mesh at all with your personal observations… can drive a person nuts.  And usually does.  No wonder so many overweight people have so many other issues.

You’ll learn quickly that we here all strongly support that hypothetical suggestion, and that for most people, weight gain and loss isn’t a function of a controlled caloric balance, but of a fatty acid metabolic disorder that disrupts normal endocrine function and the happy homeostatic condition of a healthy weight.  The human body is completely capable of self-regulating and maintaining a healthy weight within a wide range of caloric inputs and outputs– the key is that calories in and out are dependent variables and you can’t control either completely.  It is an illusion that you can just eat 500 calories less a day and that your body will actually experience a 500 calorie deficit… the human body is an impressive self-regulating machine and it can easily adjust to your changes.  You might lose a pound that first week, but you’ll quickly stop seeing results.  Your body will have adjusted and fought back against your attempts to force a deficit.  There’s a better way– work with your body, instead of trying to brute force weight loss, create the conditions where your body ends up being able to self-regulate properly, and loses weight on its own.  Work with your body, not against it.

Okay… got off on a tangent there for a bit.  Go read the post.  It’s a good one.  Seriously, go now.  You owe it to yourself.

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Responses

  1. The book Eades cites (“Stuffed”) certainly exhibits how powerful context-shaping forces can be on our ability to make informed decisions. I’ll be writing on my thoughts on this probably over the weekend, but I couldn’t agree more regarding the evaluation of the responsibility here. Nothing bothers me more than looking at matters of choice and consequence in a limited context, or judging on the broad-scale without the awareness to match.

    It actually reminds me a bit of the banking collapse, in a roundabout way. Fivethirtyeight.com had a great post dissecting the causes, and came to the conclusion that it was a “systemic” issue, rather than a specific moral failing. I’d like to think that the same sort of problems are what underlie the issues here, given that carbs tend to be the “cheapest” calorie. There’s a clear economic slippery slope underlying all of the misunderstandings, and it’s a shame that allowed unhealthy behavior to have such a strong framework of incentives.

    Kinda makes me wonder if there’s some meat on the idea of a ‘Carb Tax’. Certainly wouldn’t be much different than taxing tobacco, and probably would have similar health gains in the long run if enforced strongly. Probably impractical.

    Oh well, back to work.

    -Alton


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